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Case Study: Unfair Dismissal and Sex Discrimination

Employment Law


How Sarah Henderson, Employment Associate in our Brighton office, helped a senior executive challenge her dismissal due to raising issues of sex discrimination and secure a substantial settlement.

The Situation

Zoe had been a high performing senior executive at an online insurance company for many years.

The company hired Josh to be her new line manager and he was sexist. He would by-pass Zoe entirely and discuss issues which related to her area of the business with subordinate male colleagues. She also found that she was passed over for a promotion for which she was well qualified. She submitted a formal grievance about the way she was being treated but, despite assurances that it would be escalated appropriately, no action was ever taken to hold her grievance hearing by HR.

A week later, Josh fired Zoe during a phone call with two other people because he said he wanted new faces in his management team.

What Martin Searle Solicitors did

Zoe came to us on the day she was fired, still reeling from the shock. We advised her that what had happened was blatantly unlawful and that she had a strong case for unfair dismissal. We also advised her that there was evidence that her unfair treatment was due to being treated less favourably as a woman and she also had a claim for sex discrimination.

The company put Zoe on garden leave for her notice period of 3 months and offered her a Settlement Agreement. Although the compensation offered was £60,000 which was worth approximately 10 months money, on our advice she turned this down. We made a higher counter offer.

After entering Zoe’s case for Acas Pre-action Conciliation Sarah issued proceedings in the Employment Tribunal alleging unfair dismissal, sex discrimination and victimisation for having raised her grievance.

The Result

Within the 28 days the Company solicitor had to file the company’s defence, her employer offered £91,000 in damages. This equated to 15 months loss of earnings. We advised Zoe to accept as she already started a new job on more money than she had been earning so she had fully mitigated her loss of earnings.

Any award she would have obtained for injury to feeling would have been substantially less than this even if a high end Vento award was made of around £40 k. We also managed to negotiate an additional payment from the company which covered most of Zoe’s legal costs.

If you are experiencing Sex Discrimination in the workplace, contact our expert Employment Law Team on 01273 609911, or email

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